“Made in Brussels”

The fact that the paintings were produced anonymously raises the fundamental question of the place they were painted. How is it possible to decide where an anonymous painting was executed? With regard to Brussels, there are a number of clues.

If they still exist, the original frames often bear the mark “au compas et au rabot”, which was used by the city’s carpenters. They may also have been constructed using dovetail joints, a manner that appears to be typical of Brussels.

Some pictorial characteristics were preferred by the painters of the city, such as the use of a bright red ground for the grisailles on the back of compartment wings. And saints positioned in front of a wall hung (or not) with a ceremonial cloth appear more frequently in Brussels than elsewhere, particularly on the painted wings of sculpted retables.

Other indicators might be an inscription, the representation of the city’s monuments or the identity of donors when they were members of Brussels’nobility.